Endings, and not just 2018

2018 was a pretty good year, but for me, it has been most filled with positive growth. And that growth has also been through pain. After having frustrating dealings with sharing a home (with my friend and her husband), it came to a head in late January, culminating with my daughter and I being asked to move out (sent by text, no less).

I descended into panic mode and had to report almost daily on my progress. I knew they were moving as well (across town), and I wasn’t about to be a lay about. Netflix was restricted to password access only, so even on my downtime neither I nor my daughter were permitted access. It was most hard on her, as she would most likely have to move out of her school district (and we ended up having to do just that in the end).

So, after many viewings, we found a place, and it turned out to be a great one. The best part has been that unlike my “friend”, who leans on connections to get ahead, I got this one on my very own. To be fair, the only contribution was a reference letter.

Moving day was interesting, but went smoothly. However, I was badgered to return to pick up other “stuff”, and then her husband started ladling things that weren’t ours into my car. I stopped him, but he was in a frenzy. I ended up bringing most of it to the town dump.

I see now that perhaps my biggest mistake in all this was living with them in the first place. And before anyone criticizes, let me first say that I did so at their invitation. I never asked.

Just a few weeks after moving in, our first fight happened. She commanded both I and her husband to get in her car and we all headed to the park, where she proceeded to stomp and scream about how she was being unfairly treated. Later on she told me that she didn’t care how I had *just* lost my mother, but my depression was making her depressed. It was at this time that I pushed my grief inward. I realized that it was not safe to express my sorrow anywhere near her (it also caused me to lose myself). But it was too late to get back the apartment that I had put my deposit down on, sadly.

When my daughter lost her dad a year later, she also regarded her with a short fuse and shouted at her shortly thereafter. I’m ashamed to admit that I stayed even with this. The kind, open person I had known for over 20 years had become a stranger to me, even worse than that, an enemy, someone who held more value for stray animals than she did people. I’m proud to say that this one part has caused me (and my daughter) to get more involved with the homeless and needy.

This isn’t a woe is me tale, nor do I plan on it being so. I’ve gained a lot of strength from going through the pain and heartbreak of this last chapter in my friendship with this person.

Over the summer, she developed an illness, and felt I wasn’t present for her during it. I was extremely busy, working several jobs, and hey–why the fuck should I be there for someone who enjoyed hurting me? Why I still held onto our friendship even then is beyond me. She gave me putdowns like extolling the joy she got now that we had moved out, how her relationship with her husband was better than it ever had been, yadda yadda.

I finally ended it (or shall I say, we mutually walked away) in December, early in the month, when I just stopped all communications. She did as well, it was wonderful the peace that came over me from just stopping the insanity. I wish I had just ended things back when I first moved, but I was weak and afraid.

I’ve since apologized to my daughter, who couldn’t understand why I kept going back to someone like her. I’ve since examined why I did just that, and combined with habit, I have a history of having friendships with abusive women (though not all, happy to say). It stems from childhood, my mother in particular.

Onto other things, I also took on a seasonal part-time job working at the stadium, in concessions, and found I was tougher than I gave myself credit for. It was fun, but also grueling. But now I know what the 3 sinks are for in restaurants, as well as the correct temps for food, displays, alcohol compliance, working fast. It was really an experience.

I’m working on an e-book for 2019, don’t want to give away all the details yet, but it centers around growth and overcoming fear. Not another self-help book, I assure you.

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Aching and grieving

I tried. It wasn’t mine to make up for, but her brusque manner coupled with my nervousness n neediness made it a perfect recipe for my destruction. However, after last week, officially a week ago, I began to let go.

When she didn’t show for jury duty lunch….it hurt. Later that day when the passive aggressive tweets began, I felt like I was living back in her house again and she had jerked the closed door open, ignoring my privacy. It was jarring, abusive.

My brother urged me not to respond. But I unfollowed her. She’s still writing zingers. All because I won’t give her attention. I just can’t go back to that place, that hurt. That fear, the anxiety had me unable to sleep or eat and she’s relentless.

When I am without her, I am at peace. I feel my world working right.

But tonight I had to admit I am mourning what was. We had a good long run. But I cannot welcome back someone who took a friendship with my daughter and ruined it. She hurt my baby, and I can’t forgive that. I am mad that I was weak, but I need to be free of her hooks & control.

We were like sisters.

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Mutterings of Fall

It took awhile, but I’ve settled nicely into my new place. Been here a few months, and I love the peace I find, not having to answer to anyone else. I am starting a new life here, and I am liking how things are going.

I’ve got a few gigs I’m doing on the side besides my main, and recently I’ve become aware of how important it is to know your worth. I spent most of the summer working 24/7, well, the 7 part is most accurate. It was mostly adrenaline, fear pumping me forward. And so far, its been working in my favor.

I’m cautiously hopeful.

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Olive branch disconnect

So, last evening, I met up with *Cris (a lot of backstory in my last post). I ended to drop something business-related at her place. We talked, I mentioned my surprise at her unfriending me on Facebook, and wanted to talk about it.

It wasn’t a long convo, but one thing came to light: she is unrepentant about kicking my kid and I out. She will not acknowledge her role in this, just that they were justified no matter what, even though it greatly inconvenienced me, and they wouldn’t allow my child to finish out the year where we were.

She felt that I pulled away, that I wasn’t there for her during her bout of a serious illness (don’t want to mention it here), and she is tone deaf when I suggest that her text rages had an impact on my mental health.

She’s otherwise wanting to know where we stood.

It’s hard for me to trust someone who refuses to admit their role in something as serious as this. I can still move forward with a relationship as long as I am in it mostly for the business end of things, and it makes me feel like I am not being true to myself. Weak.

Once someone shows you who they are, believe them. I am. And I need to move away from this. My kid is adamant I cut ties, but it is not that simple when you also are involved in a business arrangement.

One thing I am doing is protecting myself by not oversharing. I know how she has twisted details about me against me. I wish I was more financially independent that I didn’t need to be with this, I am considering that move in the next few years.

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New beginnings

Been mulling how to begin with this one. I have always been one to believe that a person has an indelible right to tell their story, from the heart, the gut, even if it makes others squirm a bit or uncomfortable.

The truth is, for a long time I’ve been afraid.  When my Mom passed in 2016, I really hit a downward spiral. I panicked at the idea of living on my own, and I was deeply bereft at the idea of leaving my childhood home, this time for the last time.

I remember how I got an apartment, then canceled on it, and was invited to stay with a college friend and her husband. Though my kid was not keen on switching schools, she soon adjusted and became enamored of her new district. I was too. For the first time, she was being bussed to and fro, she enjoyed the idea of all of her classes being on one floor, she relished in the new opportunities that lay ahead of her, and I appreciated the cheap rent.

At first, things seemed to be great. We occupied separate rooms (with the exception of the living room and kitchen), enjoyed having dogs in the house again, and I really enjoyed having a new family life to come home to.

Things took a turn just a month in, when my friend, Cris* (not her real name) demanded that I and her hubby Rick* (not his name either) get in her car as she had something to speak to us about. I could tell she was mad, but the idea of being *ordered* like a petulant child to go somewhere was anathema to me, especially in midlife. Still, I didn’t see much choice in the matter, so I went. She took us to a local park, got out and literally began jumping up and down and screaming at both of us.

I was fearing that I was about to get evicted, Rick just stood there with his hands in his pockets staring at the floor. She was mostly mad at him for shirking doing any household duties while she felt she was doing everything.

For me, she felt like I wasn’t holding up my end very well at all. I could see her point, but one thing became apparently clear–Cris doesn’t do grieving people very well. Yes, I could’ve been better at organization, neatness, etc. I just was hanging on. Everything seemed so overwhelming. She said to me that “my depression was making her depressed.”  As much as it hurt to hear that, I realized I had some improving to do, especially since my tenancy depended on her happiness, a crappy place to be, but where I was nonetheless. Out went grieving.

So, we stayed and got through the winter, the holidays, had some laughs, and when spring came, I got seeds to plant with, and was OK’d to set up a garden in the back. However, one day I came home, and she had moved all of my stuff to the back, away from the sunshine, and where it flooded. My growing season turned into a disaster.

We all have quirks, and I know living with someone else, even family is bound to be difficult at times. But as time wore on, we wore on each other. She would blast the tv late at night, so I got noise-canceling headphones. When it snowed, I would get a knock at 12am to move my car. My daughter rearranged the fridge to make it neater, but they let it go back to pot. She and I loved to cook, Cris freaked out that we’d burn the house down.  Even making Christmas cookies made her itchy. And yet, I grew up with cooking. It was a pleasure and a way to enjoy life. Time it seemed was working against Cris and I. She preferred to eat out, I wanted to save money and cook.

Towards the end of that following year, she hinted that she wanted us to find our own place. We tried, there was a local family that rented out parts of their home, but one of their illegal dwellings was infested with black mold and fleas. Other places were too expensive, and again I was trying hard not to have my kid switch schools yet again.

She would on occasion go into tirades, with me, with my kid, with Rick. One minute things would seem fine and the next she exploded.  She didn’t even have much sympathy for my daughter after she suddenly lost her dad. She snapped at her one day and my kid ran off crying. It reminded me too often of growing up with my mother, who would lash out with a slap and cutting words. So, I further learned to overcompensate and when Rick didn’t do his regular chores, I did. All I wanted was Shalom in the home, and it turned out nothing would have changed the circumstances for the better.

Finally, this past spring, things came to a head. Cris made a fire in the fireplace, but smoke was filling up the whole house (I suggested the flue was closed. Nope, they never cleaned the chimney). Anyhow, my kid, who has asthma, had an attack, and was furious with me for not speaking up. I was terrified to. And that’s when I realized I was choosing silence over my child’s health, and I spoke up. She regarded me with annoyance, and I pleaded with her just to open a window, turn the fire down, because my kid was suffering. She never did.

The next morning I was greeted with a text that told me we were to be out by the end of the following month. Not even 60 days. It broke my heart to tell my daughter, and the look on her face made me realize I never should have given up on that apartment.

The person I had known and trusted for over 20 years was now a stranger to me. She had  every right to have her home set up the way she wanted, but she had become a bully, and she enjoyed lording it over us, Rick included. I’ve since sat, wondering where this was all coming from, but it doesn’t matter.

I’ve also had panic attacks, chronic worry and stress over how I would provide for my kid and I. I want to say I’m cautiously optimistic. Yes, she’s going to have to change schools once more, but being in our own new place, being able to do what we want to do,  it’s a peace of mind that living with them I never had.

The sad unfortunate take away is that our friendship has changed, perhaps forever. She still has lashed out about things, and then she has periods where she is calm, almost the Cris I came to know and love. I have needed space, and am getting it. I’ve tried to talk to her about how I feel, and she has just been harsh and judgmental. So many people tell me this is not your friend anymore. I am now open to grieve, and the flood is overwhelming. The loneliness I feel has been truly like losing another family member. But I’m also furious. I haven’t spoken my peace. I know she has a lot to unload and I am done being kicked around.

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My I can’t believe this story

It was a breezy warm April morning & I had just left our motel room on the second floor, going down for a walk and inhaling the salty Florida tropical air. I was on the third day of my vacation, and it was beginning to relax my nerves. The sky was a friendly blue, the palms swaying gently, but doesn’t everything seem to look better in Florida?

As I turned my phone on, a reddish hued gecko made its way up the trunk of a nearby tree, embracing the day, much like I was about to.

My phone buzzed, an angry & distracting sound, then again and again. I had missed multiple calls. 3 were from my mother. I sighed inwardly, a deep thready response to her inability to separate from me. One was from my brother.

My mom began just curious, a bit needy about our vacation, missing us. Her voice drifted off by the third call, and she sounded tired, almost drunk. But her words were eerie: I love you guys and I always will.

It sounded like she was saying goodbye. I chalked it up to her usual machinations of obligation and the suddenness of being without a house full of people. It must be so silent for her now.

The next message from my brother came in quick & alarming.

Mom had a heart attack last night. She is in the hospital. Call me.

Immediately, everything dropped away, much like my knees as I slid to the pavement, cradling my phone so it wouldn’t fall. I reached him on the first ring.

She’s going to get a stent, you don’t need to come.

Every impulse in my body felt wrong, stunted. How could I just leave her behind? How could I not rush to her side? But he reassured me she would be OK.

It was late in the afternoon a day later when I found out this was not to be the case.

She coded on the table when they tried the stent. They told me I needed to make a decision, let her die or have open heart surgery. So, I did. I told them to make her have the operation.

During the operation, which at her 76 years she survived, there was several instances of coding, and ultimately she made it, but with a massive right hemisphere stroke. Her recovery was messy. She had to be intubated, out on a respirator, chest drain. She developed a large back ulcer from spending 2 months on her back. Her heels began to show signs of pressure sores forming beneath the skin.

The worst part was not being able to communicate with her. And in light of the fact that I had ignored her calls the night it happened, I felt I couldn’t forgive myself. How did I know this was going to be the last time I ever would speak to my mom? It haunted me.

And then came the days when she woke up & showed signs of improvement. By this point she had a peg (stomach feeding) tube, a tube in her throat, and her hands gloved so she wouldn’t fight back to take the tubes out.

We were hopeful. I was happy one day when she began mouthing words. They didn’t make a whole lot of sense at first, but I got her to understand what had happened, that she had been “out” for the majority of the spring, it was summer now. She was aggravated that she could not go home.

The next day was the 4th of July. It began much like any day, I had a good one, I spent some time on the porch, poring over documents to get my mother admitted to Medicaid and to stay in the nursing home she was in.

In the evening, I got several calls from a number I did not recognize. I was used to getting telemarketers, and this was nothing different, surely.

Until I checked them. It was from the nursing home she was in & they were urgent. Maybe denial played a huge part in why I didn’t call them back. I figured it was paperwork related. When I got on the phone, the worker on the other end was breathy, telling me in rapid fire that my mom had died and I needed to get a funeral home to take her because they didn’t have a morgue.

Wha-wha-whaaaaat?

My world was spinning, I was alone, it was night, and I had to find the strength to begin making arrangements.

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Complicated…

I was reading about grief the other day, and finally found a definition to cover what I’ve been going through…complicated grief.

It’s multiple deaths in a short period of time. For me, it’s not that, I am relatively at peace with all of them, it’s the silence. The quiet, the freedom. And it’s not a happy place.

It’s what Yentl was singing about when her father died: Papa can you hear me?

And laments about how the night is darker, the world has changed and she is all alone.

I am so thankful to have my brother. I don’t know how I would cope with the holidays if I had no other family.

A former boss said that the hardest thing about getting older is the funerals. And the realization that your number is ascending closer to the top (end of the line).

I just know that I am finding it hard to adjust to a new reality where the people I loved are no longer there to communicate with. And…the guilt.

Mom, I miss our talks. Dad, I miss bringing you things while you watched Sunday football. Missy, I miss talking & seeing you. Steve, I miss our wonderful talks, the laughs and being parents together.

I want to believe that we will see each other again one day.

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